Our Submission to Canada’s International Assistance Review

The following is our submission to Canada's International Assistance Review. Click here for a pdf version of this submission.

The International Assistance Review recently launched by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is a unique opportunity for the Government of Canada to re-examine its international assistance priorities and approaches. As outlined in the International Assistance Review Discussion Paper, Canada is focused on delivering results and becoming best-in class in international assistance innovation and delivery. Meeting those challenges within the existing fiscal context will mean adopting new approaches.

Key Recommendations:

  1. GAC should take concrete steps towards encouraging the adoption of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard by Canadian CSOs.  The IATI Standard is a publishing standard focused on increasing transparency and improving collaboration in the international development sector. IATI provides organizations with a way to communicate with each other and with government, in a language that computers can understand — this is referred to as “machine-readable data”.

  2. GAC should develop their IATI adoption strategy through discussions with key stakeholders, taking into account policies that have successfully encouraged widespread adoption in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

  3. GAC should upgrade their project browser using their own IATI publishing. The Canadian government currently operates a project browser that has limited functionality and an out-of-date interface. Better examples are the UK Government’s DFID Development Tracker and the Dutch non-profit Cordaid’s Countries interface. GAC’s upgraded project browser would showcase the opportunities for engagement resulting from IATI to Canadian CSOs  

Advantages of IATI adoption:

  1. Increased effectiveness: IATI adoption will lead to increased up to date aid information. GAC can use this to improve its view of the larger picture of international aid activity in Canada. This information is a prerequisite to designing and delivering more effective and efficient aid delivery approaches and mechanisms.

  2. Promotion of coherence and coordination: Access to up to date information  permits increased planning, coordination and coherence between the different development, trade, and diplomacy efforts within GAC.

  3. Drive Innovation: As more organizations have adopted IATI internationally, the availability of open, standardized data has led to the creation of innovative ideas, companies, and processes. It has also lead to an ecosystem of tools, services, and practices. Akvo, a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands is a good example of how an organization can use IATI to drive innovation in their country. IATI adoption will support this type of innovation for Canadian CSOs.

  4. Improved collaboration with stakeholders: Because Canadian CSOs do not publish to IATI, they are less discoverable by the international community and to each other. IATI adoption would result in increased opportunities for collaboration both between Canadian organizations, and also with organizations from other countries.

  5. Increased transparency: Funders in the international development community have worked together to develop IATI as the most relevant “best practice” for increasing transparency. Canada should benefit from this existing body of work.

  6. Improved data collection and reporting: IATI’s adoption by Canadian CSOs would automate aspects of data collection and provide GAC with a regular flow of up-to-date aid information.